(Richmond, VA, Dec. 7, 2016) — This morning, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center will present oral arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the First Amendment, which it argues is being violated by government-sponsored Christian cross monument in Bladensburg, Maryland. (UPDATE: Monica Miller’s presentation of the oral arguments can be heard here)
Monica Miller, senior counsel at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, will present the oral arguments, which challenge a 40-foot tall cross monument located on a public highway median that is owned, funded and maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The lawsuit was filed by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center in 2014 on behalf of the American Humanist Association and its members, including local residents and veterans.
“When the government displays a massive Christian cross as a war memorial, it sends a strong stigmatizing message to the non-Christian veterans who fought for our country that their military service is less worthy of remembrance than that of their Christian comrades,” said Miller.
Miller continued, “Every war memorial cross challenged in federal court was ultimately found unconstitutional. The Bladensburg cross’s imposing size and central placement in a busy highway median intensifies the religious message conveyed by this particular cross, making it a clear violation of the First Amendment.”
Oral arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court will begin today at 9:30am, and the American Humanist Association is third on the docket.
In December 2015, after the U.S. District Court of Maryland ruled against the American Humanist Association and found the cross constitutional, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The legal center’s appellate brief can be viewed here and its reply brief can be viewed here.
In 2014, the American Humanist Association prevailed in a lawsuit challenging a religious war monument, which included a cross, on public land in Lake Elsinore, California.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
Shake Things Up by Sitting Out the Pledge of Allegiance